Drivers hoping to catch Pokemon hunters

A fan seen playing Pokemon Go outside the Singapore Zoo on August 7.
A fan seen playing Pokemon Go outside the Singapore Zoo on August 7. PHOTO: AFP

Pokemon Go players finding the physical demands of walking around to collect the different characters too challenging now have the option to travel in comfort.

Car rental firms, private drivers and even players are hoping to cash in on the craze by posting advertisements on social media offering air-conditioned transport to Pokemon Go-related locations.

The current market rate is about $30 an hour.

A private driver known as Mr Sng, who runs a limousine service using Facebook, is charging that amount to help players "catch as many Pokemon as they want". While he has not had any requests for the service, he said: "I've seen the popularity of the game and people might have use for such a service if they want to cover more ground."

Pokemon Go community groups on Facebook offer similar ads.

A Facebook user who wanted to be known only as Ian posted in the Pokemon Go Singapore - Team Instinct (Yellow) group yesterday, offering the same rate.

"I'm a Pokemon Go fan and since I have free time during the weekend, I thought I'd ask if anybody was keen," said Ian, who works in construction. "$30 an hour is not a lot if a group of friends share the cost, and I need to cover petrol."

Full-time Grab driver Sean Yap charges $350 a day excluding ERP and parking charges. His post garnered complaints for the high charge, but the 26-year-old explained that the amount is what he usually earns in a day.

He added: "Since everyone is so into the game, I might as well try my luck by offering this service."

Car rental firm Wagon Mate is offering a week-long Pokemon Go promotion. Customers who can prove that they have downloaded the game will receive a 10 per cent discount, said owner Ralph Koh, who has received four inquiries.

"The weather in Singapore is quite hot and some people might not want to walk too much, so we thought of this," he said.

Police and the Singapore Civil Defence Force have advised drivers not to play the game at the wheel.

Advertising executive Josh Lim, 27, might consider hiring a driver to help him play the game. But, he said, "I suspect the novelty has yet to wear off and people will still want to experience chasing after Pokemon on foot".

When Pokemon Go was launched in the US last month, drivers there also offered their services, with some giving incentives such as free snacks and Wi-Fi.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 08, 2016, with the headline 'Drivers hoping to catch Pokemon hunters'. Print Edition | Subscribe